Repertoire introduction

Oct 30, 2014, 4:23 PM |

It’s been a while since I blogged in this space. I’m on hiatus from rated USCF rated play, with a newborn son, so I thought I would take the time to write a series of blog posts documenting my opening repertoire. I’ll be using this for my own reference, and also as a chance to cement it in my own brain by explaining it to others. Note that this means that I’ll be coming back and editing the relevant posts as I expand my knowledge about each opening. 

So here is my repertoire in a nutshell, with hyperlinks to each line as I post about it:


 - Advance (Be2, Bd3, a3, other)

 - Exchange (Nf3, c4, Bd3, other)

 - Classical (Bg5, e5, other)

 - Tarrasch (early f4, Ne2, Nf3, other)

 - Other


 - d5, but not Nf6 (c5, c6, Nc6, e6, other)

 - Nf6, but not d5 (g6, d6, b6/e6, c5, other)

 - Neither Nf6 nor d5 (e5, d6, f5, other)

 - Both Nf6 and d5 (Bg4/c5, e6, c6, Bf5, g6, other)

Old Benoni

 - e4, but not Nf3 (f4, f3, Bd3, other)

 - Nf3, but not e4 (g3, Nd2, Bf4, Bg5, h3, other)

 - Both e4 and Nf3 (Be2/0-0, h3/Bd3, other)

 - Early deviations


Some notes and explanations:

Against 1. e4, I’m sticking with my faithful old friend, the French Defense, 1…e6: 

I’ve been playing this opening for years, literally. And over the past year or so, I’ve improved my understanding of it significantly. I’ll be using some ideas from Simon Wallace’s brilliant series “Killer French”, as well as leaning on the classic “Play the French” by John Watson, as the seminal reference. There’s again the theme here of immediate counter-attack, almost no matter what white does, with e6 very clearly setting up the …d5 thrust.

Against 1. d4, I’ve started experimenting with playing the old Benoni, 1…c5: 

The approach that I’ve taken in my repertoire is to find openings where I have a clear plan going in, and which is very slightly off-beat from the most bookish lines. So, for example, I don’t want to learn all the theory behind a Sicilian or KID opening. Plus, KID can often lead to positions where white and black are pawn storming each other on opposite wings, which is mot really my kind of position. 1. d4 c5 forces an immediate decision, and casts a distinctive Benoni flavor on the game for quite a while. 

I’ll also reserve a space for black defenses against other white openings. For example, the English, off-beat openings like 1. b4 or 1. f4, and 1. Nf3 lines that have value independent of transpositions to d4 openings. I’ll fill this space out as needed.

Finally, I’ve been working on learning the London opening with the white pieces. This is characterized, generally, by a setup like this:


In the next 3 posts, I’ll lay out my opponent’s main approaches in each of the 3 primary scenarios (1. e4 e6, 1. d4 c5, and 1. d4 2. Bf4)